Quotes by Cornelia Atwood Pratt

Don’t ask me how I knew this.  I can only tell you what intelligent people know already,  That those who love and collect “old things” have a kind of sixth sense that enables them to perceive atmosphere where other people  see only more or less pleasing shapes of wood, porcelain, metal, canvas, and paint.  And sometimes, somehow, this perception of atmosphere, of the aura about old portraits, furniture, jewels, and such-like, is raised to the nth power and passes over into a perception of emotion.  The experience is as vivid as strange, as convincing as incredible.  But you must take my word for it in this case.  I have no other proof to offer   -save two bits of broken string.

The Preliminaries

He had not left his sense of humor in the outside world.

Describing Peter Lannithorne, the imprisoned father of Ruth, whom Oliver wants to marry.  So Oliver goes to visit Peter in jail.  He gets the truth about what matters.

I know myself for a man who has committed a crime, and is paying the penalty.  I am satisfied to be paying it.  As I see justice, it is just.

For Oliver, Peter exuded;

a sense of moral poise of the universe, an acquiescence of its retributions, and a curious pride, akin to Ruth’s own.

Responding to Oliver about other advice he got from Ruth’s mother and  his own father, Oliver Sr. – advice that in Oliver’s words only opened chasms and abysses, Peter said;

They haven’t the point of view.  It is life that is the great adventure.  Not love, not marriage, not business.  They are just chapters in the book.  The main thing is to take the road fearlessly, – to have courage to live one’s life.

Peter, goes on to tell Oliver that all Ruth wants for her daughter is absolute security, the same that Oliver Sr. wants for his son – something nobody can have.

The reason it is so hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven is that he has the false sense of security.  To demand it just disintegrates a man.

Oliver then asks Peter, shouldn’t one want security?

Peter responds:

Whatever you do or get, you aren’t after all secure.  There is no such condition, and the harder you demand it, the more risk you run… it is up to the man to take all reasonable precautions about his money, or his happiness, or his life, and trust the rest.  What every man is looking for is the sense of having the mastery over life….It comes, … with the power to endure.  That’s it!  Your are safe only when you can stand everything that can happen to you.  Endurance is the measure of a man… Courage is security!

For Oliver; the chasms and abysses in his path suddenly vanished, and the road lay clear again, winding uphill, winding down, but always lit for Ruth and him by the light in each other’s eyes.

Taking chances is the law of things.

Peter tells Oliver.  I think there is the stuff of a man in you.

This story begins when Oliver proposes to Ruth and she says that she will only marry him if he will loves her father, as she does.  To get council, Oliver goes to talk to Ruth’s mother, who says she would prefer that her daughters never get married.  His own father Oliver Sr. questions the idea fiercely and asks his son, does he really want the legacy of his imprisoned father-in-lay following his own children in life?  After his visit with Ruth’s father who speaks truthfully and clears all doubt for Oliver, Oliver tells Peter.

I’ll tell her sir that I feel about her father as she does! And that he approves of our venture.  And I’ll tell myself, always, what you’ve just told me.  Why, it must be true!  You needn’t be afraid I’ll forget – when the time comes for remembering.

Finding his way out of the prison yard a few minutes later, Oliver looked, unseeing, at the high walls that soared against the blue spring sky.  He could not realize them, there was such a sense of light, air, space, in his spirit..

Apparently, he was just where he had been an hour before, with all his battles still to fight, but really he knew that they were already won, for his weapon had been forged and put in his hand.  He left his boyhood behind him as he passed that stern threshold, for the last hour had made a man of him, and a prisoner had given him the master-key that opens every door.